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Designs and implements solutions using Microsoft Access Relational Database Management System, often in conjunction with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and perhaps discuss entry-level Microsoft SQL Server. Meetings range from Q&A to small projects to occasional long-term projects. Tables, queries, forms, reports and code demonstrated during the session are distributed to participants for future reference.

Meetings are conducted virtually—you attend from home or office. Bruce establishes a webcast of his screen using Mikogo, and a conference call using Skype; both are free services. You only need a web browser and an inexpensive microphone for voice. New participants are requested to contact Bruce prior to the meeting to go over configuration requirements and conduct a test session.

Contact: Bruce Preston, 203-431-2920 (daytime only). Meets on 2nd Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in a virtual meeting (see below).

DACS Community Forum: http://forum.dacs.org/

News and NotesBruce PrestonNews and Notes

January: The session had only one minimal and easily resolved problem related to conducting a virtual meeting using the combination of Mikogo for screen casting and Skype for conference call support. As we refine the process we expect fewer glitches.   

All attendees agreed that the virtual meeting process is a viable mechanism.  The session dealt primarily with TABLE design.  A brief description of what constitutes a relational database was given and then a simple database was constructed.  The process included determination of which tables were needed for building a model, specification of data columns, data types, naming conventions, and the identification of primary and foreign keys.  

A lookup wizard was used to facilitate entry of foreign key values in a 'child' record in both direct table access as well as a form's combo box control.  The form's lookup combo box was then modified directly so as to show the underlying properties.  The raw source for a second combo box was then modified dynamically via VBA code to demonstrate how to exclude a value.  

The next meeting, February 9, will concentrate on QUERIES.  If you would like to attend, contact Bruce prior to the day of the meeting to get particulars as to how to participate in a virtual SIG meeting.

Thank you for expressing interest in the MS Access SIG

If you would like to participate, let Bruce know well before the meeting and he will assist you in getting your Skype account set up and tested, and add you to the conference call group list.

(See below for further details on set up.)

This SIG conducts virtual meetings—using web conference capabilities. To participate you need the following:

  • A broadband internet connection—Cable or DSL
  • A web browser—Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Opera
  • The browser must have the Adobe Flash Player plug-in. (You probably already have it.)

The above is sufficient for viewing the SIG leader's screen. He will send you a URL or instructions as to how to connect to the webcast of his desktop.

To hear what the SIG leader or other participants are saying, and to be able to speak to the SIG leader or other participants, it is necessary to have a Skype account. Skype is 100% free when used to communicate with other Skype accounts over the internet. It can run simultaneously with the webcast of the SIG leader's screen.

If you don't have a Skype account already—

  • Download the Skype client software from Skype... www.skype.com/download/skype/windows About 1/2 way down the page is big green button—DOWNLOAD Skype 4.1 for Windows
  • If you want to use a Mac (although Access isn't available for Mac, I suppose you could run it within Fusion, Parallels, or Boot Camp... www.skype.com/download/skype/macosx/
  • For Linux users, you may download a binary or tar file for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or openSUSE from the Skype website.
  • Install Skype. It will ask you for an e-mail address. They don't SPAM. The e-mail address is used to send you your password if you forget it. You will need to provide a 'screen name' - Skype accounts do not use e-mail addresses.
  • Go through the setup wizard to configure your speaker(s) and microphone. If you don't have a microphone, you will need one. They come in several types:
    • a desktop microphone—just a base with a long wand at the end of which is the microphone. Usually has a microphone plug (3.5mm) that goes into the light-red socket on your sound card.
    • headset—usually has one or two earphones and a 'boom mike'—think of a telephone operator. Can come with either two plugs—microphone plug goes in red socket of sound card, earphone plug goes in green socket on sound card. OR
    • single USB connection performs both microphone and earphone connection.


Microphone prices range from under $9 for a simple desktop microphone to anywhere from $9 to $25 for headset/boom combination. I have been happy with simple Cyber Acoustics headset/boom combination—about $15.

Here are some local stores that carry PC microphones (remember, PCs use a 3.5mm plug, hands-free cell phone headsets are 2.5mm.) Curiously, I couldn't find any on Staples's website. In alphabetical order by store...

Best Buy
Dynex - Desktop Microphone - $19
Dynex - Stereo Headset/Boom microphone - USB - $22

Office Depot
Cyber Acoustics - Mono Headset/Boom Microphone - $15

Cyber Acoustics - Headset/Boom Microphone - $23
Logitech ClearChat - Headset / Boom microphone - $20

Cyber Acoustics - headset w/ boom - $20

Cyber Acoustics - Headset/Boom mike - $13
Micro Innovations - Desktop microphone - $9


Be sure to go to the Skype menu Tools / Options / Privacy and select settings that control how visible you are to other Skype users.


The SIG Leader (Bruce Preston) will be glad to assist in testing your setup before the SIG meeting. The suggested sequence is this:

  • Install Skype
  • Use Skype's Wizard to test your speakers and microphone.
  • Use Skype's Echo Sound Test Service (in your contact list)—it records your voice then plays it back to you.
  • Call Bruce at (203) 431-2920 (DAYTIME ONLY, PLEASE) or send an e-mail to bpreston@mags.net - and give him your Skype account name and e-mail address. He will place a call to you.
  • He will also set up a test webcast and walk you through the process of connecting.

The evening of the SIG - (2nd Tuesday of the month, 7:00PM to about 9:00PM)

Bruce will send you the URL or 'roomname' of the webcast, and place a group conference call to those who have expressed interest in participating in the SIG. Answer the call, link to the webcast, and participate.


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